Monthly Archives: October 2020

PUB101 – Process Post (Week 6)

What is a public? Where do we get our ideas about what publics can or should be? How do you find, engage and grow your public?

This week we focused on the topic of Publics and Counter Publics. As a brief description, the term public can be defined as elements that “shift the normal industrial emphasis on the manufacturing and distribution aspects to the idea of publication as a social and political act (Norman, 2020, Week 6 Lecture Slides). In Warner’s reading (2002), he defined a public as the social space created by the reflective circulation of discourse.

Ultimately, this suggests that any and all media meant to incite social interactions between others could have its own public. This got me thinking of the popular social media platform known as TikTok. I had been using the site for about 6 months until I stopped creating content on it. During my time using the app, I noticed that aside from the ‘for you’ page, there was a sense of totality, bounded by the event or by shared interests. Creators of the app made it easy and simple for users to find categories and videos they wanted to see through curated subsections. In these subsections, the app featured top creators who had made a video relating to that specific topic.

Hello Counselor

One thing that’s great about the internet is you get to watch what people across the world are watching.

Living in Canada, most of our programming probably comes from the US, with maybe a little bit from the UK as well. We’re so used to a certain type of humour, or a certain type of movie plotline, that sometimes they all start to seem the same. However, as Parasite reminded us when it won the Oscars, there’s so much more out there than just English programming.

So lately I’ve almost made it a point to see what people in other countries are watching, just to throw a little bit of variety in there.

In the midst of watching a string of Korean videos, I came across this Korean show, which was interesting, to say the least. Although it’s produced by a Korean broadcaster (KBS), they’ve regularly uploaded full length clips on their YouTube channel.

Hello Counselor (안녕하세요) is a show that tries to be what it sounds – a counselor of sorts. People bring their problems onto the show, and the hosts, along with an assortment of actors, actresses, and K-pop stars, try to figure out how to bring the feuding sides together, with some comedy injected in between.

It’s a surprisingly interesting format – it blends a little of the comedy talk show format with a reality show format to create something that I find to be quite different than what I’m used to watching.

Over the years they gotten all kinds of “concerns” as they call it, from ones that are fairly serious, to ones that are downright ridiculous.

For example, did you remember the first time you did sex ed? Well, in this one, the kid’s mom seems to have a strange way of teaching her kid about the birds and bees:

Yikes! That’s probably every high schooler’s nightmare scenario.

But as I mentioned, on the flip side, there are some episodes that feature segments that are quite sad to watch. One that comes to mind is this episode, where the little girl gets trapped between the parents that are constantly arguing. Pretty much everyone is shocked towards the end of the segment, when they find out what the little girl thinks.

For the most part I feel that the show does a relatively decent job at trying to balance the more serious content with a little bit of levity in between, which isn’t always easy. It certainly is very entertaining, and almost a window into Korean society.

However, the main criticism that I have about the show is that sometimes it simply doesn’t have the ability to really solve some of these problems. Half the time I feel like they only get to a brief truce at the end of the segment, and with pretty loose commitment that they’ll try to be better in the future. It’s almost like watching Judge Judy after I learned that the plaintiff and defendant don’t even necessarily have to pay out of pocket for anything – it loses a little bit of that satisfaction and feeling of resolution.

As well, although it’s not any of the guests’ fault, they really don’t have much experience in some of the areas that these “concerns” dig into. It would probably be a better idea to maybe invite experts that come on to talk about the issues, and maybe investigate further the problems behind it. That way it wouldn’t feel like they’re skating over some issues or not giving it the attention that they deserve.

But for their part, they’ve tackled some serious issues and have been relatively progressive for Korean standards. They’ve brought on Muslim guests, and Black guests to speak about some of the stereotypes that they face and the general sentiment they relay to viewers is to be more open minded and less judgemental.

It sometimes feels like an emotional rollercoaster watching these videos, and certainly they are very interesting to watch. But watching this does to some extent make you reflect on your own life and family.

The one thing I did take away for sure, is that you shouldn’t take for granted what you got, cause some people definitely have it a lot worse.

The Democracy of Social Media

In today’s time, the impact of social media is such that if you were to not speak anything for the rest of your life verbally but were voicing your opinion digitally on a platform, you’d still be highly impactful. Social media, at its core is one of the biggest tenets of democracy but democracy is interpreted in different ways and is fluctuating constantly. The level of freedom an individual has on social media, is now dependent on their status and the audience they are connected to.

Social media, although claiming to be a space that is equal for all to voice their opinions, is heading towards becoming a completely authoritarian medium. The average person is told their actions on social media are in their control and uninfluenced. In reality, the authoritarians of social media, which can be further categorized as government representatives, officials, parties, etc., have become more and more strategic in their manipulation of the information that is distributed on digital media. Politics looks very different over the years as social media has become even more of an outlet to promote political campaigns, advertise groups of people believing in the same idea, and constantly influence the decisions the citizens of a country make. For example, Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, is one of the most talked about and well known people on social media, although not in the best way. His actions are the epitome of unacceptable and irrational, yet somehow he gets away with everything he says. This is because he has a following of people that support him blindly so he can say whatever he wants and to whomever he wants to. However, had it been any other person in place of him, they would have received more  backlash and faced consequences for their words. Being an authority figure and  a person in power gives him the buffer to be unfiltered. In the article “From Liberation To Turmoil: Social Media and Democracy”, authors   Joshua A. Tucker, Yannis Theocharis, Margaret E. Roberts, and Pablo Barberá talk about how “Social-media technology is young, but has already played a part in numerous turbulent protests and a highly polarized U.S. election. Social media have often been described as the site for conflict between “good” democratic forces who use social media to make their voices heard and “bad’’ autocratic and repressive forces who aim to censor this channel to silence these liberal elements” (page 47). This explains how the shift in the idea of democracy in social media has taken place over the years. Another example is Greta Thunberg and her receiving mixed responses on her responsible attitude towards the environment. Her freedom to express her opinions shows the democracy of social media but the attempts to make her points seem invalid by numerous people, demonstrated that the freedom to express comes with the idea that what a person says are not as important if you are not a person in power. This goes to show that the democracy claimed to be existent on social media in today’s time is a myth and used to make the general public believe that they have an equal opportunity to express their voice without any restrictions.

Secondly, the type of audience and the age demographic impacts the response received on a statement and in turn impacts the freedom to express. In general, whether it be praise and approval or backlash and criticism, it is different when it comes to the platform and the audience it is used and viewed by. For example, Tik Tok is a platform that has individuals sharing and creating content over varying age groups. One minute you could be watching a Tik Tok with a university student giving tips on how to schedule your life, and the next minute a person could be seen supporting Donald Trump. Each type of content affects a different type of audience and the thoughts expressed  in each one are drastically different as well. This goes to show that democracy does exist on social media but the backlash will be received on certain content that is found offensive or unappealing to the audience watching it. There will be people supporting the content receiving backlash and there will be people disagreeing with content being supported. If the response received on a statement or thought someone has to say, makes them change their mind about it, then the freedom of expression is not really there. In situations where the statement is negative and deserves backlash, for example with Donald Trump, freedom of expression or democracy of social media is an important thing so that the wrong can be criticized. This means that social media, however democratic we may consider it, isn’t actually so democratic because your thoughts can be influenced because of the audience it’s distributed amongst and that is not a negative thing all the time.

In conclusion, the existence of democracy in relation to social media is based on individual experience mainly. The freedom to express one’s thoughts and concerns while worrying about the  response it will receive is creating somewhat of an invisible filter between the person expressing  and the targeted audience. Social media is a democratic platform to begin with, but as the complexity of what it means to have freedom on such a platform increases, the more difficult it is to determine the democracy of it.

Works Cited:

Journal of Democracy Volume 28, Number 4 October 2017 © 2017 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press

Social media is rotting democracy from within January 22, 2019 https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/1/22/18177076/social-media-facebook-far-right-authoritarian-populism

Psychology of Cyberspace – The Online Disinhibition Effect http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Social Networks And Democracy: A Difficult Fit, Or Just Plain Impossible? October 16, 2019 https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2019/10/16/social-networks-and-democracy-a-difficult-fit-or-just-plain-impossible/

Essay #1 – Youtube: A Democratic Sphere

With the development of various new technologies, individuals today look towards new online media as well as various social media platform for their news. Consequently, this may bring up various concerns about the accuracy and credibility regarding the circulation of different news sources. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have definitely accelerated the rate at which stories circulate but have also revealed the dangers to sensationalized headlines that are often shared. In the particular case of Youtube, a concern revolving around their association to spreading misinformation, potential political bias and even the incentivizing of clickbait is highly likely. However, it can be argued that social media platforms like Youtube create democratic spaces for dialogue and conversations.

WHAT IS YOUTUBE?

Youtube is an example of a platform that incorporates both media distribution and production with social networking features, making them an optimal space to connect, collaborate and create. By encouraging individuals to become media creators and social networkers, new media platforms like YouTube offer a participatory culture in which one can develop, interact and learn (Chau, 2010). Although there are many benefits to this participatory culture, YouTube is one of the many companies known to be both political and democratized in various aspects. For instance, it is deemed to be political for the fact that it is privately owned and democratized because it is a platform based on a public sphere. The concept of the public sphere was defined within week 6 of the course and can be defined as “a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed” (Norman, 2020, Week 6 Lecture).

YOUTUBE’S DEMOCRATIC SPHERE

To further explain the democratic environment on YouTube, it is important to understand that through the platform, individuals have the power to access videos/content created by users from all around the world. The social change in our generation has shifted into an online space (cyberinfrastructure) where an individual can now build a personal brand and turn it into a career. The company itself has undergone a variety of changes and has transformed from a video-sharing site into a job opportunity for content creators in both new and mainstream media (Holland, 2016). The website’s online celebrities, popularly known as “YouTubers,” are now using their appeal to content viewers and traditional media to strengthen their branding. Anyone that uploads onto the site now has the opportunity to become a “YouTuber” through the freedom given to create content and upload original videos.

An excellent example of a recognized channel that utilizes the platform’s democratic nature is The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (2020). The host, Stephen Colbert, creates videos and content based on satirizing and discussing current events, especially within politics relating to the United States. This is exemplified in one of his videos titled, “This Monologue Goes Out To You, Mr.President” (2017) where he speaks freely about his opinions and makes jokes directed specifically towards Mr.Donald Trump. Likewise, this idea of open dialogue is openly displayed in the comment section where a user can comment on the video as well as participate in discussion with other’s quite freely.

Despite Youtube’s benefits and positive aspects as a news source, there are still concerns to be aware of. Youtube went through substantial changes after being sold to Google for $1.65 billion dollars in 2006 (NBC News, 2006). This created a shift in the content being created and was the start of commodification through ads. The advertisements placed into Youtube during videos and on their website are how creators gain revenue. Essentially, YouTubers monetize their videos by partnering with Google’s most valuable asset, AdSense. Google Adsense is a CPC (cost-per-click) advertising program that works by matching text and display ads to your site based on your content and visitors (Google Adsense, 2020). The experience of Youtube may allow users to thrive but ultimately the site’s owners and corporate partners gain the most benefit financially.

HOW TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN FAKE NEWS IN THE YOUTUBE ENVIRONMENT

When it comes to YouTube, many base their channel on the premise of giving reviews and openly sharing their personal opinions. Unfortunately, this opens the door to allow anyone with an audience and a channel to share potential fake news and create echo chambers. Since the news has become something consumers can access almost instantly, users of social media have grown more accustomed to having choices of where to get their news (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010, p.22). This has made the act of being able to properly distinguish between reliable and fake new sources essential. A “tradecraft of skepticism” introduced in an article by Kovach and Rosenstiel (2019), explains a few questions that should be asked while determining. Asking questions like, what sort of content am I engaging with? Is there anything missing from the information being presented to me? What/who are the sources? Examining these elements can help individuals recognize if the information being provided is reliable/credible. It is crucial to know the differences and not fall into consuming media that is custom-made to fool you (Annett, 2017).

Overall, YouTube thinks critically about the aspects that motivate participants “to share information and to build relationships with the communities shaping its circulation” (Jenkins, 2013, pg.196). They have given individuals the power to comment, share, subscribe and access videos/content created by users all over the world. The company has created a democratic space meant to create dialogue and even stimulate hard but crucial conversations. Users of the platform should always be wary and conscious when it comes to consuming and potentially sharing fake news allegations, echo chambers and false news.

References

Annett, E. (2017, February 1). What is ‘fake news,’ and how can you spot it? Try our quiz. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/community/digital-lab/fake-news-quiz-how-to-spot/article33821986/?fbclid=IwAR0AcppPdqOt_MmoDGcsuMoVV4fhwql66yeSdcBVl3FSiuwrCYlusVNbBhw

Chau, Clement. (2010). YouTube as a Participatory Culture. New Directions for Youth Development, 2010(128), 65-74.

Holland, M. (2016). How YouTube Developed into a Successful Platform for User-Generated Content. Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 7(1), 52-59

Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Designing for Spreadability. In Spreadable Media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture (pp. 195-228). New York: NYU Press.

Kovach, Bill & Rosenstiel, Tom. (2010, Oct 5). Blur: How to Know What’s True in an Age of Information Overload.  Pages 1- 25.

Kovach, Bill & Rosenstiel, Tom. (2019, July 15). The Elements of Journalism. Retrieved from https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/journalism-essentials/what-is-journalism/elements-journalism/

NBC News, A. (2006, October 10). Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion. Retrieved April 02, 2018, from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15196982/ns/business-us_business/t/ google-buys-youtube-billion/#.WsedXBPwZmA

Norman, S. (2020). Week 6: Publics and Counter publics [Lecture]. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/bah_9nato_yu/publics-and-counterpublics/

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. (2020). Home [YouTube Channel]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMtFAi84ehTSYSE9XoHefig

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. (May, 2017). This Monologue Goes Out To You, Mr. President [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaHwlSTqA7s

Essay #1

Goodbye Democracy When looking at social media platforms, the layout seems to be a free space for political discussion. For instance, Instagram has recently become a booming application for sharing political content, organizing protests, and voicing for change (Stewart, 2020). More specifically, the Black Lives Matters movement shook the online world so much that the […]

Essay #1: Internet freedom?

In 2018 the Pew Research Center conducted a survey of Americans and found that 53% of their respondents got their news from internet sources in 2017 (PRC 2018), 20% from social media, and 33% from online news articles. In recent history, social media websites such as Facebook started to censor posts that they deemed to be “abusive”, with conservative news posts being left out from trending pages sorted by algorithms (The Guardian 2016).

In the early days of the popularization of social media as a news source, Twitter was hailed as the most efficient method of distributing news to the general population, with journalists relying on updates from regular people for content on live events and disasters. But today, we are censored by algorithms that former Facebook employees admit to being biased (The Guardian 2016). How can we trust what we see online? Are we all being groomed to think and act a specific way based on what we are told to read and listen to? Social media isn’t as democratic as we think, however, the internet as a whole is still free as long as we seek neutral sources of information and purposefully explore alternative opinions.

When we post online, usually we expect to have complete control over our content as an individual with freedom just as someone would expect when speaking in public. However, many posts can be subject to censorship or removal based on community guidelines set out by many sites. An example is Facebook. In their terms and conditions, they list that

Who is my audience?

The audience I have been imagining thus far has mostly been members of my publishing class. The reason my classmates immediately come to mind as the initial audience for this blog is because this blog was created for that class. Process posts like this one, mini assignments, essays and peer reviews are all content directed towards my classmates and instructors. That is the majority of the content for the blog.

It has certainly been a struggle trying to manage my voice on this blog for that reason. I know that I’m being graded on the content I post, but I don’t want to limit my personal expression within this space. I want this to be a blog that people from the musical theatre community can search for and enjoy.

The creative voice I write with for my musical theatre-related blog posts is directed towards the musical theatre community, but it doesn’t feel consistent through the rest of the sections, including these process posts, due to the need I feel to maintain an academic tone.

I think for the most part I have decided that it is okay to have that inconsistency. By the time the class is over I’ll probably delete all the academic content on this blog and maintain the original vision I had for it. I want to keep writing about musical theatre and I feel confident in my voice as a writer. The design and layout of the blog right now makes it easy to find course related content. I feel that for now that separation created by the navigation panel allows for the content on my website to be properly curated to show a divide between the educational material and the blog-related content.

Process Post #5: Design & Peer Feedback Reaction

I really appreciated getting advice last week from Kyra at Falling For Fashion on my blog and getting to write about hers! It helped me to understand what is working for my blog along with what I should work on to improve.  One piece of advice I took was to make the text more visible on my profile photo since it already has a colourful background. I took this advice and changed it to a simple text over the photo to make it more clear. I also wanted to make this design more cohesive so I changed my header to match the calligraphy style font I have been using in my featured images. 

Another tip Kyra gave me was to add more about myself on my “about” page. I definitely was inspired by her “about” page where she details her future aspirations and fashion story, so I plan to add more details like this soon to my page! It was cool how she mentioned that my “storytimes” section caught her eye which I originally wasn’t sure about adding so I’m glad! I am now trying to think of what other blog posts I can add to this section in the future.

A site that has struck me with its great design elements is Drizzle & Hurricane Books. I love how everything – down to the raindrop shaped social media icons – goes with their theme. It uses complementary colors and the text is soft on the eyes. It definitely is a site that has inspired me to create a unique theme on my own blog. I have noticed a few bloggers have design elements with their names which they use to end their blog posts as a kind of signature. I really like this idea as it makes the post even more personal and cute. On Drizzle & Hurricane books they also often make use of the umbrella emoji which goes along with their theme and use “drops” as a rating system.

Going through Drizzle & Hurricane Books has definitely made me appreciate design elements and inspired me to think of what I can be adding in my own posts. I am happy so far with my design elements in the organization blog, but I would like to add more graphics to create a theme and a signature as a personal touch!

I’ll try it here:

Love, Toria

ESSAY #1

Is social media democratic? Issues regarding social media.

In today’s world, as most of the technologies are digitized, social media is widely used to distribute information, ideas, as well as to communicate. This post will discuss the democratic side of this platform and some of the issues may occur when using social media as the main source of news. The main source of case studies and survey data used to back up later arguments was conducted by the Pew Research Center, whose sample survey are adults in the United State, given the Coronavirus pandemic situation broke out in March 2020.

First, let’s look at how Americans usually find and share information about COVID-19 on social media. According to a Pew Research Center analysis posted on March 1-31, 2020, Coronavirus-related posts managed to be spreeded around on a variety of public Facebook spaces of different topics but barely any of them related to healthcare and science. The study collected a total of 6.5 million posts that mentioned COVID-19 in more than 350,000 public Facebook pages and groups from March 1 to March 31, 2020 (Stocking et al. 1-2). Most of the posts gained a relatively high level of interaction because they linked to new organizations. These new organizations include TV and Digital native outlets. The presence of these pages and groups shows that Facebook users were at times turning to spaces dedicated to their local areas to discuss the pandemic’s impact.

However, social media posts are not only about quantity, but the quality of the post should also be considered. A democratic point about social media is the freedom of speech. One can post their opinions about any hot topics or even share others’ inspirative ideas. As more and more people use social media to publish their ideas, it is harder for the authority to get control of the information’s accuracy and the viewers’ restrictions. There is usually a slow reaction in eliminating false news. Therefore, people who read that news may come to their own illogical conclusions. These self-developed thoughts also divide readers into different groups, which leads to a possibility that different political party’s mindset can influence how people process content in the post. One example of this is the conspiracy “Plandemic” video that went viral in May. Adults who “often” use social media to get news about COVID-19 report higher levels of exposure to the conspiracy theory that the pandemic was intentionally planned by powerful people (Mitchell et al. 1). Republicans and Democrats are both likely to have heard about this conspiracy, but Republicans are much more likely to see the truth in it.

Finally, a drawback of social media that worth mentioning is that it is a source of news, not a news channel where information is plentifully updated daily. Those who rely on social media for news are less likely to get the facts right about the coronavirus and politics and more likely to hear some unproven claims (Mitchell et al. 1-2). The Pew Institution conducted a survey on Oct 29-Nov 11, 2019 to see the proportion distribution of U.S. adults between common ways to get political and election news. Those who focus on getting political news from social media usually don’t pay much attention to coronavirus news (Mitchell et al. 1-2). Based on the Pew Research Center’s survey, people who state that their common source of information is social media show that they don’t closely follow up the news as their test results were near the bottom. One of the reasons for this may be the news suggestion function embedded in the online social platforms. The data filter program in users’ app will identify their information preference and boost it on to their newsfeed so they are always updated.

In conclusion, social media may be a convenient channel for everyone to get information from as they can share and engage with it. Hence, it is not an effective way to gain knowledge. Beside the potential speed of circulating the information in the network, not every news provided by social media is trustworthy and accurate. It would be more adequate to use online social platforms as a secondary source rather than the only way to approach news.

References:

Gottfried, Jeffrey, et al. “Americans’ Views of the News Media During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” Journalism.org, 8 May 2020, www.journalism.org/2020/05/08/americans-views-of-the-news-media-during-the-covid-19-outbreak/.  

Mitchell, Amy, et al. “Three Months In, Many Americans See Exaggeration, Conspiracy Theories and Partisanship in COVID-19 News.” Journalism.org, 29 June 2020, www.journalism.org/2020/06/29/three-months-in-many-americans-see-exaggeration-conspiracy-theories-and-partisanship-in-covid-19-news/.

Mitchell, Amy, et al. “Americans Who Mainly Get Their News on Social Media Are Less Engaged, Less Knowledgeable.” Journalism.org, 30 July 2020, www.journalism.org/2020/07/30/americans-who-mainly-get-their-news-on-social-media-are-less-engaged-less-knowledgeable/.

Stocking, Galen, et al. “As COVID-19 Emerged in U.S., Facebook Posts About It Appeared in a Wide Range of Public Pages, Groups.” Journalism.org, 24 June 2020, www.journalism.org/2020/06/24/as-covid-19-emerged-in-u-s-facebook-posts-about-it-appeared-in-a-wide-range-of-public-pages-groups/.

PEER REVIEW: Alyssa Lalani

Hey, all! time for another review of one of my classmates. This time, I’ll be looking at Alyssa Lalani’s self-titled portfolio site.

Now, considering Alyssa is a design student, I’m not surprised that this looks really good right off the bat. It’s simple, it’s easy to navigate, and the hierarchy of posts makes sense: title, short description, portfolio, specialties, and a contact tab at the bottom.

The one thing I noticed right off the bat was a little grammatical error in the description: “I am interested in exploring the intersection art and technology” should definitely have an of somewhere in there, but in case you couldn’t tell, it’s a minor nitpick because, really, there’s nothing wrong going on here. There’s an About page that’s charming and to the point, the Contact link leads to a contact page, the Portfolio link leads to a portfolio page…

But admittedly, that’s where the first problem came about. Navigationally speaking, that’s where things get a bit confused. I don’t really see the point to a portfolio page, if the portfolio is already there when you open the site up. There’s nothing wrong with opening up on a static page, but again, that portfolio doesn’t have to appear twice.

Also, I wish it was easier to access the blog. The menu is hidden up in the right corner, and I kind of wish it stood out more, considering that’s where so much of the information is. Like, I remember being worried at first, because I couldn’t find the blog. I thought, “Am I going to have to review a good portfolio site based on how good it is as a blog?”

Again, I’m nitpicking. I’m nitpicking because this is a very good site. But yeah, I guess the major revisions would just be a question of avoiding navigational issues and redundancy with the portfolio. Otherwise, I don’t really have any complaints! The site serves its purpose, and the portfolio is lovely. I think my favourite thing there is either the omelette game or the kinetic typography. Maybe I’m biased because I’m considering the comms/IAT joint major, but I think this stuff is really neat, and I know enough to know when it’s done right.

It’s done right in this case, absolutely. It demonstrates Alyssa’s work and goes into details of the process, which is always appreciated. I can’t wait to see what else she makes!

Peer Review #2 – Let’s Talk About this Film

Today, I am very excited to be conducting a peer review for Let’s Talk About this Film. In this review, I will be focusing primarily on the design of the website as of October 20th, 2020. I will be drawing upon concepts such as contrast, typography, consistency, and overall usability; these concepts are gone over in more detail here.

When I first view your page, I see a classic black/grey background with white writing. The writing is clearly legible because of the contrast, and header image adds to my understanding of what your blog is about. I think that the font in the header really suits the tone of the website. It would be nice if you customized the font for the rest of your posts to complement your writing. Your current font seems quite generic, so I think customizing it to match the font of the header will create consistency with your work. There is a Netflix logo in the header that did confuse me a bit. Is your site only reviewing movies on Netflix? That doesn’t seem to be the case as I continue reading, so I think it would be best if you used a more general icon so that readers know exactly what will be in store for them.

I found it easy to access your posts, as I able to view the most recent posts by scrolling down the homepage or by using the menu. However, because you have a continuous scroll, I did feel a bit bored scrolling through all the lines of text. I think you could better captivate your readers by adding more images to your posts, whether that be a featured image or an image between lines of text to illustrate a point. This will give your page a better rhythm, as right now there is no patter of where images appear. If you are not attached to the idea of the continuous scroll, you could always install a plugin (if your theme can’t do it) to create a grid layout, which will allow you to access content without scrolling through so much work. I was able to use the grid layout by following the instructions here.

At the bottom of the homepage, there are several link icons that have no description attached to them.

It seems that when you click on one of these icons, it takes you to a static page that was set up by the theme but is not being used by your blog.

Don’t be afraid to customize your site! I am not sure how your theme may differ from my own, but I think you could remove these footer icons or edit the link attached to them by following one of the suggestions here. There are several options to choose from, so hopefully at least one will work with your theme. Similarly, I think you could customize the other things that appear in your footer area, such as the additional “Address” or “Hours” tab. I see you wrote a funny comment to go along with each of them, but I am not sure if that is because you genuinely wanted those sections or because you haven’t tried to customize the site. For the purposes of your site, those tabs should not be necessary.

I see that you have not attached any social media links. I didn’t do this either to protect my privacy, but if you would like you can link to your social media by following the steps here. I also suggest you install a plugin to your contact page so that your personal email can’t be so easily accessed (it may attract spam by being so openly available on your site.) Having a contact form will also enhance the professionalism of your site and make it easier for your readers to contact you. You can install a contact form by following the steps here.

One final thing I wanted to mention, though it is not related to design, is spelling and grammar. There are many errors throughout all your posts that discourage me from reading your work. Make sure you proof read prior to posting, and maybe look into using something like Grammarly if this is an issue you struggle with in your other academics.

Overall, there are definitely some good things going on your site. I enjoyed your colour scheme and site usability. I think the biggest thing is for you to customize your site to suit your style; don’t rely solely on the original theme! I hope that the links I provided help you to customize your site to meet your vision!

E-democracy

The development of information technologies in modern society has reached those conditions under which it is time to talk about new forms of democracy. Electronic democracy is a qualitatively different technology for the expression of the will of the people. And, most importantly, more frequent and accurate measurements of the mood of the general population, which would not entail significant financial costs. To this should be added such an undoubted advantage of Internet democracy as responsiveness and the speed of revealing public opinion.
According to the criterion of free access to social networks, many researchers now assess the degree of democratization of society. This approach is not without foundation. If only because the citizens of countries that are known to be “undemocratic” are deprived of the opportunity to use the Internet and, accordingly, social networks. This ban, in particular, was established by the DPRK government. A typical example.
There is no doubt that social networks expand the communication capabilities of individuals. They allow you to form a circle of communication outside the environment, given biographically – acquaintances that have appeared in the course of training, professional activity, due to the neighborhood, etc. Social media essentially breaks down these kinds of boundaries. The circle of communication is formed according to the criterion of common interests, the attractiveness of the interlocutor, the relevance of a topic, etc. But in the aspect of government interests, something else is more important: control over social networks is ineffective. Networks provide, above all, the free exchange of information. However, the real usernames are not always known. Identifying them is very costly, but the effect is rarely achievable.

Communication on social media provides an individual with the ability to resist official propaganda. Moreover, to conduct polemics with her within the network community. In addition, social networks can and are becoming tools for organizing communities that are practically not controlled by the government. And this already implies the danger of resonance, which creates conditions for a coup. Traditional “democratic” regimes, regardless of the government’s opinion, cannot restrict access to social networks. After all, this is an encroachment on the fundamental principle of the organization of society – the notorious democracy. Governments that have already been recognized as “undemocratic” do not need to worry about such consequences. In such states, there is a prohibitive principle: everything that is not officially allowed is prohibited. The situation is somewhat different in countries whose governments claim to be “democratic”. Bans are recognized as inappropriate but attempts at the level of legislation to limit or control the activities of social networks are characteristic.

The development of the Internet makes it possible to reduce the costs of transmitting information through social networks and potentially makes them more effective than traditional methods of campaigning: political advertising on the air of television and radio channels, publication in print media, posting posters on the street. Social movements are becoming an important component of the political process (Della Porta, Diani, 1999). One of the factors in the formation of these social movements are social networks, which are beginning to play an increasing role in the modern political process.

The first large-scale attempt to use the power of social networks in a political campaign was made in the United States in the framework of “primaries” (selection of a candidate from a party) before the 2004 elections. Deanspace website played an important role in the company of Democratic candidate Howard Dean. The Deanspaece website was created by volunteers to energize the social networks of Dean’s supporters, and the site’s core toolkit was aimed at self-organizing and networking small support groups. Despite the fact that the site quickly became popular, it created groups for each state, for a number of cities and various thematic groups (scientists for Dean, women for Dean, etc.), he could not turn the tide. As a result, Howard Dean did not win the Primary in any of the states. Researchers justify the low voting results by the poor connection between the team of volunteers who worked on the creation and development of the site, and Dean’s campaign headquarters, as well as the low level of Internet penetration in rural areas (Lebkowsky J., Ratcliffe, 2005, p. 307).

Four years later, during the 2008 primaries, all these mistakes were taken into account by the campaign headquarters of the candidate for the Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama. Social media played a significant role in financing Obama’s election campaign because the main large donors to the Democratic Party supported Hillary Clinton (Plouffe, 2009). Of the $32 million raised in January 2008, when Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters set a record for the volume of campaign donations collected in one month, 28 million were received via the Internet, with 90% of these donations being less than $ 100 (Obama Raises $5.8 Million online After Super Tuesday). Social media also helped to activate supporters who usually did not participate in elections, did not follow political news in the conventional media, and were not members of political parties (Plouffe, 2009, p. 255). Bark Obama’s campaign demonstrates the effectiveness of using social media to disseminate political information. The development of the Internet is giving horizontal social networks the tools to be more effective than ever before. This will inevitably lead to a change in traditional forms of political participation, such as political parties, and to the further development of direct citizen participation in the political process.

Bibliography

Bloomberg.com: Obama Raises $5.8 Million online After Super Tuesday

URL: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=avCBuO_Z_nqI

Della Porta D., Diani M. Social Movements: An Introduction. — Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1999.

Lebkowsky J., Ratcliffe M. Extreme Democracy. — Lulu.com, 2005.

Plouffe D. The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory. — Viking Adult, 2009

Peer review 1

Today I will be peer reviewing Heather’s blog about home-made recipes inspired by Asian cuisine with a touch of Western-style! You can find her blog over at http://chiisweethome.com/.

To begin with, I must say that I am very happy that I am peer reviewing Heather’s blog in particular because I have a special place in my hart for Asian food! I am very excited to check out some of your recipes Heather!

Once I opened the blog, it was very clear to me what this blog is about. Of course, its about food! You can understand the topic of the blog from the picture on the home page which reflects plates with some food in it. You can also understand the blog topic from the description below the website name.

I think that this blog needs a little more work on navigation and organization. Although it is not terribly difficult to find things, it is not very easy either. When I click on the menus, some pages seem to be empty :/

However, good news! I can find process posts, mini assignments, and about section on the Home page.

I would love to give you a few tips to improve on your blog! The first thing you could do is edit your Home page. I feel like there is an overflow of information on your Home page. Maybe make it more simple, include some pictures, and general information about Asian cuisine. You can also add some quote about Asian food of food in general and comment on it!

The second thing is the organization of your Academics section. For easier navigation on your website, you can create a menu with the name “Academics” or “Course Work” or “PUB101”. And then, you can create sub-menus that would reflect all sorts of assignments we need to do this semester: Process posts, Peer reviews, Essays, Mini assignments. That way, It would be so much easier to navigate your website.

Also, what you can do is add more pictures or videos to your blog! Make it look stunning and eye-catching. You can attach a picture to every or some blog posts or process posts to make it more interesting and attractive!

There is some work that needs to be done with the blog. But I am sure it’s not a problem, just have fun with it! I hope you can figure out how WordPress works! And if you have any troubles or issues you can always text me. I would love yo help you out!

Social Media and Democracy in the Digital Age

Essay #1

Social media is perhaps the most democratic platform we have ever seen. Candidates are given the ability share their ideas and political agenda to millions of people with just one click. Reaching the mass media has never been this easy, and many politicians are taking full advantage of this. Are social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram becoming political? Are we democratizing social media swinging one way or another on the political spectrum? Discussing politics, elections, and other political ideologies are rampant amongst social media users and is vital for the continuity of an open and free public sphere.

First, it is important to look at the media and its ability to disseminate information. The media has the potential to share mass amounts of information to large amounts of people, and social media is not where this started. Before social media, there was radio, telegraph, newspapers, and television to disseminate news and politics to the masses. The media has the ability to determine what news in important, and “the media may set the “agenda” of the campaign” (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). This can have life changing effects on elections and the performance of campaigns for candidates. McCombs & Shaw hypothesized that the mass media has the potential to influence citizens attitudes towards candidates and has great agenda setting power for political campaigns. Thus, the media has the ability to mandate the conversation, and skillfully monitor and shape the public’s views.

Twitter is one of the most used social media sites and is especially popular amongst political professionals. Ausserhofer & Maireder (2013) speculated that the “virtual public sphere still mirrors existing social structures,” and that the internet has certainly facilitated conversation between the public in a much wider sense. However, the people within our company often share similar views to our own and may result in a filter of the content we are consuming. Twitter is widely based on who you chose to follow and as a result will filter content that are similar to your previously stated interests. Ausserhofer & Maireder (2013) reinforce this point as while Twitter is an open-ended platform, everyone on the platform experiences it differently. When speaking about Twitter and politicians, Donald Trump may be the first to come to mind as he is very active on the app. Though he is not alone as many politicians use Twitter for campaigning, sharing information about rallies and other events, and as a mode of self-promotion (Ausserhofer & Maireder 2013). Twitter and other social medias can act as a gateway between normal citizens and political figures and can be used as a catalyst for change.

Many studies suggest that social media is democratizing its users. Technology and social media are making people more accessible, and this is inclusive of politicians and others in government or power. It has been suggested by Swigger “that technology may be altering American attitudes on basic democratic values and highlights the need for dynamic research designs that account for the causal effect Internet use may have on individual political development” (2013). Not everyone has chosen to use social media, and those who have not undoubtedly have a different opinion about their political figures. Only being able to access politicians by television or newspaper is going decrease the amount of information they can access. Hence, citizens who may not have access to social media or the internet at all may form very different opinions. The online world plays a “key role in shaping core democratic values by providing a conduit for self-publicizing” (Swigger, 2013). Many countries do not have access to social media and the internet, and this can cause issues in citizen’s rights and freedoms. If governments are blocking access to the internet, the “internet cannot only be used as a tool for democratization, but also as an instrument for authoritarianism” (Jha & Kodila-Tedik, 2019).

Overall, social media is definitely a catalyst for democratic conversation. Reaching the mass media is vital for the success of any political figure, and to stray away from the traditional forms of media such as television and newspaper. Gen Z and Millennials especially are more likely to consume political content on platforms like Twitter and can become trapped in echo-chambers of content and users that share their own political views. While social media definitely opens the gates for political discussion, the question still remains “can social media promote democracy or is it subject to same kinds of censorship as traditional media such as print media and television?” (Jha & Kodila-Tedik, 2019)

Reference:

 Ausserhofer, J, & Maireder, A. (2013). NATIONAL POLITICS ON TWITTER. Information, Communication & Society, 16(3), 291–314. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2012.756050

 Jha, C. K, & Kodila-Tedika, O. (2019). Does social media promote democracy? Some empirical evidence. Journal of Policy Modeling, 42(2), 271–290. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpolmod.2019.05.010

McCombs, M. E, & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36(2), 176–187. https://doi.org/10.1086/267990

Swigger, N. (2013). The Online Citizen: Is Social Media Changing Citizens’ Beliefs About Democratic Values? Political Behavior, 35(3), 589–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-012-9208-y

Week 5: Designing Yourself

Influence of text on website promotion and how to improve it

The relationship with attendance is simple and logical. If the text is perceived easily and clearly, then visitors begin to love the site, return to it more often, and recommend it to others. If the text is difficult to perceive, if you need to re-read it several times, if it is difficult to grasp important points in it, then you want to leave this site as soon as possible and forget forever.

That is, the quality of perception of the text directly affects the behavioral factors that are processed and taken into account by search engines when ranking the site. The more the visitors sympathize with the site, the better the behavioral factors, and this allows the search engine to put it in a favorable position in the search results, which, in turn, increases traffic.

How to improve the perception of text on the site

  • Highlight links with color and underline. Site visitors should understand that clicking in one place or another in the text will transfer them to another page. You cannot make links with the same font as the rest of the text. It will also be very convenient if the links will open in a new tab. This way the visitor does not lose the main point.
  • The text should have adequate line spacing and font size. This is controlled by the theme style. Typically, most themes have normal line spacing and font sizes. But if not, then you need to fix it. You can fix it by adding your CSS code to the theme settings, or in the theme settings if provided.
  • The body block of the article should be clearly separated from all other parts of the site – the header, side columns, comment form below it. This is also controlled by the theme styles.
  • The font color should contrast well with the background color. How good that there is no doubt about the quality of its readability. Search engines have a filter that is applied to pages where the text blends into the background.
  • Use images in the text. Text without pictures looks boring, dry, and casual. I don’t want to get to know him closely, because you understand that now you will plunge into some kind of long and boring reading. Pictures are needed in any article, even a serious one. In addition to enlivening reading, it is also perceived positively by search engines. And, of course, images can be used as explanations for text if it is too complex. But even if you don’t need to explain the text with a picture, you need to add at least one thematic image.

Week 4: Editing & Genres

Who is a digital editor and what he/she does?

Initially, an editor is a person who checks and corrects a text to bring it to conformity with the politics of his genre: journalistic, literary, technical, artistic or scientific. Most importantly, the profession of an editor is as modern as possible, allowing you to work remotely with customers and create high-quality content anywhere and anytime.

Previously, programmers and webmasters were involved in writing text for sites, therefore, the quality of the content suffered greatly. Why? Because in order to be able to write a text, you need a certain talent and a lot of experience. Over time, journalists, philologists, and PR specialists joined the editorial office, whose main business was working with text, but the digital structure was far from their perception.

Later, they were replaced by copywriters, rewriters, SEO and SMM specialists. However, their options were somewhat narrowed. Therefore, in really good publications, the editor is the main person. With the help of it, almost all information and graphic content is created.

The main thing is that not all people who can write and read a lot can do editorial work, because, first of all, a real specialist understands not only the basics of legal culture, technology, interface, background, typography and even the art of negotiations, but also high-quality delivery of information to your reader. Now it is much more difficult to do this due to the high competition of the Internet media, so the right words are only half the battle.

From this it should be concluded that the editor is a multispecialist who needs to combine both managerial skills and ideal knowledge of the language, artistic norms and the ability to work with devices and gadgets.

Cyber Democracy

      Cyber Democracy is a new concept that born along with the appearance of the information society. The information society, characterized by the development of computer network, has brought about the network development of information processing, creation and communication modes, and also profoundly changed people’s lifestyle, thinking mode and concept mode, forming a new network culture, and cyber democracy becomes the accompanying product of this new era.

     However, does cyber democracy actually exist? My answer to this question is yes, cyber democracy does exist in the internet world, but it is always accompanied by a precondition, the various forms of censorship. The reason why we emphasize the idea of censorship in terms of the Internet is because of the unrestricted nature of the Internet. Michael Warner defines the public as “A public is a space of discourse organized by nothing other than discourse itself. It is autotelic.” (Warner, 413). In such a neutral space, people are given the freedom to speak as or not as a representation of themselves. Without restrictions, one of the psychological phenomena can be easily observed in the internet world: the self-indulgence psychological phenomenon. As defined by Ryan M. Jones, “The self-indulgence phenomenon is a combination of excessive hedonism and self-centeredness resulting from a false sense of entitlement.” (Jones, “Why Self-Indulgence is a Big Problem”). Self-indulgence is an unconscious act. Once we express an open and compatible attitude in a certain situation and our moral confidence increases, we unconsciously assume that we have the right to express biased opinions in the future. Then we are gradually morphing out of control in such a free speech environment. Thus, censorship in the internet world becomes indispensable.

     Since the internet world appears, different approaches have been put forward to monitor and manage the Internet community. For example, in China, all Weibo users must register by their legal name so that the majority of the “inappropriate” remarks can be traced back to the original author, so that it endows the social platform with the adequate authority to intervene with the online community. Apart from the real-name registration policy, I found that art is also one of the censorship tools. Art, as another form of social network censorship, it is not used as a certain limitation on behavior so as to achieve the purpose of censorship, but through the inclusion of art, privacy, and the indirective way of expression to add a layer of protective film on the expression of ideas, information is not exposed directly in front of people, but rather presented as a blend of artists’ experience and ideas.

   Ai Weiwei is one of the artists that has been actively engaging with various social networks. Ai Weiwei’s artistic creation is rooted in the phenomena and problems of Chinese history and contemporary society and is famous for his political frankness and incisiveness as well as his unique and pungent aesthetics. He sees internet as “a modern church. You go and complain to a priest and everybody in the community can share your problems.”( The Guardian, Guardian News and Media) He has been participated in the discussion of various conflicted problems and played the role as a an observer, recorder and expresser. Ai Weiwei had an active engagement with the Hong Kong protest in the previous month. During the protest, he continued to take photos of the event and posted them on Instagram, which sparks the discussion on the internet. Ai Weiwei has also been concerning about the refugee community, he expressed his views on some social media, while also creating relevant works of art based on facts so as to spark a larger social discussion. In terms of Ai Weiwei’s expression on news happens in the world, his creative language and methods are international, always through a large number of metaphors, humor, puns and political satire, trying to relive the tradition while subverting it and giving it new meaning. He believed that all activities and works of art were social and political.

Ai Weiwei, as a person with social influence, goes deep into these social issues and social news, records and transforms these information from the perspective of a recorder, perceiver and experiencer, and reprocesses these information with art and publishes them to the public. Perhaps we also have other access to these information, but after being re-packaging by art, information becomes not so direct and easy to understand, leaves us sufficient space for a sensational thinking, rational thinking and resonation, make the process of information generation no longer a straight line, but rather an interesting process of twists and turns and thus creating the unique censorship on internet.

In the form of artistic expression, all expressions of speech and thoughts are packaged and separated, which ensures both the freedom of expression and expresses various possibilities of processing information, it has realized cyber democratic in a sense. We are always on the way to realize cyber democracy, but censorship is indispensable. No matter what form censorship exists, it is an essential part of public space.

Reference:

“Ai Weiwei Sparks Social Media Flames in China.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/ai-weiwei-sparks-a-social-media-fire-in-china/.

“Ai Weiwei Says Internet Is like a Modern Church after Flood of Lego Offers.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 Oct. 2015, www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/oct/26/ai-weiwei-internet-modern-church-lego-bricks.

“Ai Weiwei on Refugees, Empathy and the ‘Miracle’ of the Internet | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 28 Sept. 2017, www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/ai-weiwei-invu-1.4309871.

Warner, M. “Publics and Counterpublics.” Public and Counterpublics, vol. 88, No.4, Nov. 2002, pp. 413–425., doi:10.1215/08992363-14-1-49.

Jones, Ryan M. “Why Self-Indulgence Is a Big Problem.” Medium, Versatile Being, 17 Dec. 2016, medium.com/versatile-being/why-self-indulgence-is-big-problem-7d82379e7928.

Fraser, Nancy. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy.” Social Text, no. 25/26, 1990, pp. 56–80. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/466240. Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

Week 3: The Online Self

Differences between the online personality and a real world one

1. The online personality does not have a material body and consists exclusively of signs and actions (and also, like a real person, of images, thoughts and feelings that it generates in the psyche of observers). “Virtual” is opposed to “material” here.

2. The online personality arises both by the will of the prototype itself (the material carrier of individual-typological personality traits) and by the will of other people who create their own interpretation of this personality.

3. After its creation, the online personality “lives” autonomously and independently of its author, being born or reviving again in the minds of other people or continuing to exist in their memory, views, worldview, and actions.

4. An online personality can arbitrarily terminate the very fact of its existence, both at the request of its creator (for example, deleting an account) and for reasons independent of him (physical destruction of the material medium representing this person, loss of access to it, deactualization of the virtual personality, leading to the fact that the content associated with it is consigned to oblivion).

5. Anonymity, at least the possibility of such, which should be understood not as the absence of a name, but as hiding the real name or as an arbitrary connection between “real” and “online” persons.

Week 2: Personal Cyberinfrastructures

Food delivery apps as new human environments

The technology of food delivery apps created a new environment in almost every person’s life. The number of apps for the delivery of ready-made food and groceries from stores is growing every day. The main factors behind this growth are the high level of use of the Internet by the masses and the higher standard of living in developed countries. However, the emergence of new companies implies high competition between them, which leads to lower shipping costs. Users can simply enter the details of their location, and a special application will show them the nearest restaurants, cafes, shops where delivery is possible.

Nowadays, food delivery is not necessarily just unhealthy fast food. A high standard of living enables people to follow a healthy diet, and therefore applications for the delivery of vegetarian products and dishes are becoming increasingly important. For example, Whole Foods, which Amazon is going to buy, is working to create a whole virtual world in which people can order food without leaving their home or office at any place and time convenient for them. #posiel

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